ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - For the second straight game, No. 21 Houston Baseball was tested late, but the Cougars prevailed once again, earning a series-clinching 6-5 win at New Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Houston won its eighth straight game to improve to 16-7 on the year. The win also clinched the weekend series - the Cougars' fourth weekend series win of the year with one game left to play. New Mexico fell to 11-9 with the loss.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
0 - Houston has yet to commit an error in New Mexico - in 18.0 total innings.
3 - Senior Aaron Garza notched his third save in the last three games.
4 - Houston earned its fourth weekend series victory after Saturday's 6-5 win.
8 - The eight-game win streak is the longest win streak for the Cougars since a nine-game streak opening the 2014 season.
17 - Kyle Survance stole his conference-leading 17th stolen base of the year.
26 - Josh Vidales has reached base in 26 straight games, dating back to 2014.
Houston starter Kyle Dowdy (6.2,5,3,3,2,3), in just his second start of his Cougar career, went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts for his second win, improving to 2-0.
Senior Aaron Garza (1.0,3,1,1,0,0) played a critical role out of the pen in back-to-back games, earning his third save after New Mexico tested the Houston pitching staff and defense in its ninth-inning rally.
The Cougars put together a seven-hit day, which included one extra base hit - a double - off the bat of junior Chris Iriart. All six of Houston's RBI came from the top four hitters in the Cougar lineup.
Leading the offensive charge with two RBI in the game were juniors Josh Vidales (1x4, R, 2 RBI) and Justin Montemayor (1x,4, 2 RBI). With Vidales' seventh-inning single - the La Porte, Texas native kept his on-base streak alive, extending it to 26 straight games, dating back to the 2014 postseason.
Houston opened up the game with two quick runs in the top of the first. Survance led off with a single, but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Vidales. With a runner at first, Iriart doubles down the left field line to put runners at second and third with one out. Montemayor would then plate two on a soft liner into left field to put Houston up 2-0 early.
The Cougars extended their lead with another run in the second after Wong opened the frame with a leadoff walk. A sacrifice bunt by Fulmer would move Wong up a base and a single into centerfield by Taylor would put Cougars at the corners with one out. Survance would drive in Wong on a deep fly ball.
Ahead 3-0 over New Mexico, the Cougars would allow the Lobos to plate their first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the third following a leadoff walk.
It was all Survance in the fifth when Houston went up 4-1 as the junior reached on a hit-by-pitch, moved to second on a balk, stole third and scored on a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt by Vidales.
New Mexico made it interesting in the sixth when the Lobos opened the latter half of the frame with back-to-back doubles into the gaps to trim the Cougars' lead to 4-2. Dowdy would settle in and retire the next three, which included two of his three strikeouts.
Fulmer opened up the seventh with an infield single and moved up a base on a Taylor sacrifice bunt. Survance followed with a walk and Vidales would single in Fulmer for the Cougars' first run of the inning. Iriart then followed to plate Survance, who was at third to make it a 6-3 game.
The Lobos threatened in the seventh when they drew a hit-by-pitch and walk to put runners at the corners with two outs. Dowdy would hand the ball over to freshman Aaron Fletcher (1.0,1,0,0,1,0) who worked 1.0 complete inning, helping Dowdy escape the seventh.
With two outs and a runner at first base, senior David Longville (0.1,1,1,1,0,0) came in to retire the final hitter and keep New Mexico off the board in the eighth - sending the Cougars into the ninth, leading 6-3.
Longville returned but in very similar fashion, would spark another ninth-inning rally, as back-to-back pinch hitters reached on singles. Longville would hand the ball over to Garza (1.0,3,1,1,0,0), who would work the entire ninth.
Garza - with a few unlucky breaks would allow one run on three hits, but was able to strand Lobos on the corners to complete the save - his third straight - all coming this week alone.
New Mexico starter Tyler Stevens (4.1,5,3,3,1,0) suffered the loss, falling to 1-1 on the year after surrendering three runs on five hits and a walk in 4.1 innings of work.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Todd Whitting
"Another thriller today .... We had a couple of things not go our way there in the ninth, but they were things that we couldn't control. [Justin] Montemayor made a great play to end the game and Aaron Garza was lights out for us again in the ninth. He went out there and pounded the zone and gave us a chance to win the game."
On the way the Cougars have battled late
"It was another resilient effort. These types of games are good for us at this point in the season. They build a little character and we are finding other ways to win games right now.
On another series win this season
"This was a huge weekend for us as far as RPI goes. Going on the road against a good RPI team and coming away with a series win and a chance to sweep tomorrow is always good. This, more than anything, is a great tune-up as we are on the road for the next two weekends - and enter conference play at UCF next weekend."
Houston and New Mexico will wrap up its weekend series on Sunday with a 2 p.m. CT start. The Cougars will return home on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch against Lamar at Cougar Field.
With 31 home games set for 2015 at Cougar Field and a Top 10 nationally-ranked program representing the University of Houston, the Cougars are proud to announce that single-game tickets are now on sale at UHCougars.com/Basetickets.
Along with the online option, fans can purchase tickets by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office at TDECU Stadium Monday through Friday, 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. or can call 713-GO-COOGS.
Houston Baseball will offer variable pricing on its single-game tickets and group rates.
For the first time ever, the pricing breakdown will be determined whether or not you purchase your single-game tickets online vs. at the gate the day of the game as well as whether the Cougars play on a weekday (Monday-Thursday) or weekend (Friday-Sunday).
Weekday: Monday-Thursday; Weekend: Friday-Sunday.
As noted in the table, variable pricing occurs. For weekday (Tuesday nights) online purchases, fans can take in a game, ranging from $5-$7 depending on the choice of seating. If you choose to purchase the day of the game as a Weekday Walk-Up, you will pay roughly $2 more than the online price ($7-$9).
Weekend (Friday-Sunday) online pricing will range from $6-$8 per game, while Weekend Walk-Up pricing the day of the game will run a fan anywhere from $8-$10.
Group rates are also available (as noted in the table). Weekday (Tuesday) and Weekend (Friday-Sunday) pricing occurs. Groups of 10-24 are set at $4-$5 per person, while groups of 25+ are $3-$4 per person.
With single-game tickets available now, Houston Baseball still encourages supporters to become Season Ticket members and enjoy the attractive pricing and rewards that come with up-front purchasing for the entire 2015 season.
HOW TO PURCHASE
To purchase tickets in advance, fans must visit the Athletics Ticket Stadium Office located on the northeast corner of TDECU Stadium, just outside of Gate 1 off Cullen Boulevard. Parking is available in the TDECU Stadium parking garage with the first 30 minutes free of charge. Regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m. or you can call 713-GO-COOGS.
JOIN THE DUGOUT CLUB
Nationally-ranked Houston Baseball would like to encourage those wishing to support the efforts and success of the baseball student-athletes to consider joining the Dugout Club for as low as $25 a month or $300 annually.
For a minimum monthly installment of $25 or a minimum one-time gift of $300, supporters can take advantage of the Pinch Hitter level, which will guarantee an invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball team apparel.
For a minimum monthly installment of $100 or a minimum one-time gift of $1,000, supporters can take advantage of the Diamond level, which will guarantee batting practice passes for two to any home game, invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball apparel.
**Cougar Pride points will be applied accordingly.
For more information on joining the Dugout Club, please contact the Houston Baseball office at (713) 743-9396.
For more information regarding Cougar Pride, please call (713) 743-GOUH.
Stay up to date with all Houston Baseball news and highlights by following us on Twitter @UHCougarBB or on Facebook at /HoustonCougarBaseball. Fans can also follow head coach Todd Whitting @toddwhitting on Twitter.